Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b 19 Jan. '46, Sevier County TN) Country singer, songwriter, actress; the best-known female country star of the late '70s--80s. Appeared as a child star on Cas Walker's TV show in Knoxville '56--9, recorded for Gold Band Records '59--61, graduated from high school '64, moved to Nashville, wrote songs with her uncle Bill Owen incl. hits for Bill Phillips ('Put It Off Till Tomorrow' '66), Hank Williams Jr ('I'm In No Condition' '67). Married building contractor Carl Dean '66, signed with Monument, had minor country hits 'Dumb Blonde' and 'Something Fishy' '67, but was promoted as a pop singer: her greatness would lie in attracting crossover attention from a country direction with excellent songs. Joined syndicated Porter Wagoner TV show '67, replacing Norma Jean and signed to RCA same year, had minor hits 'Just Because I'm A Woman' and 'Daddy' '68--9, made breakthrough with 'Mule Skinner Blues' '70, no. 1 country hit 'Joshua' '71. More than 20 Parton/Porter duet hits '67--74 incl. 'We'll Get Ahead Someday', 'Just Someone I Used To Know' '68--9, 'If Teardrops Were Pennies' '73, 'Please Don't Stop Loving Me' '74; among the duet albums, Just The Two Of Us and Always, Always '69, Porter Wayne And Dolly Rebecca and Once More '70, Two Of A Kind '71 made top 200 pop LPs. They toured together; he prod. her solo hits incl. autobiographical 'Coat Of Many Colors' '71, 'Touch Your Woman' '72, international hit 'Jolene' '74. She felt he was holding her back, left TV show '74, but he retained contract to produce her records incl. more hits 'I Will Always Love You' and 'Love Is Like A Butterfly' '74, 'The Bargain Store' and 'The Seeker' '75, but she wanted to reach a wider audience: her last album to reach the pop LP chart had been Joshua '71. The split with Wagoner was acrimonious '76; she relocated to West Coast and forged fresh direction with LP New Harvest/First Gathering '77, her first LP to crack top 100 pop LPs; single 'Light Of A Clear Morning' failed to reach country top ten but made pop Hot 100; Here You Come Again '78 was top 20 pop LP with title track at no. 1 country, no. 3 pop, followed by consecutive country no. one hits 'Two Doors Down', 'Heartbreaker', 'Baby I'm Burnin'' '78, all in pop top 40. She was ACM's Entertainer of the Year '77, CMA's '78; in demand for TV shows for her personality, figure-hugging outfits, blonde wigs, delightful knack for kidding herself. Made film debut in 9 to 5 '80 (title song no. 1 pop hit), co-starred with Burt Reynolds in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas '82 (incl. new version of 'I Will Always Love You'), Sylvester Stallone in Rhinestone '84. More hits incl. 'You're The Only One' '79, 'Old Flames (Can't Hold A Candle To You)' '80, 'But You Know I Love You' '81, 'Potential New Boy Friend' '83, 'Downtown' '84; teamed with Kenny Rogers for tours, TV specials, million-seller 'Islands In The Stream' '84, written and prod. by the Bee Gees. A shrewd business lady, Dolly Parton rather than somebody else is doing well from all her talents. Albums (to name just the rest of the crossovers to the pop chart) incl. My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy '69, A Real Live Dolly '70 (recorded at Sevier County High School, with Wagoner on four tracks), Heartbreaker '78, Great Balls Of Fire '79, Dolly Dolly Dolly and 9 to 5 And Other Odd Jobs '80, Heartbreak Express and Greatest Hits '82, Burlap And Satin '83, The Great Pretender '84 (covers of '50s-- 60s pop hits), Rhinestone soundtrack and Once Upon A Christmas (with Rogers) '84, all on RCA. Real Love '85 was top ten country LP. Long-awaited harmony project Trio '87 on WB shared honours with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, incl. 'The Pain Of Loving You', co-written by Parton and Wagoner, and Parton's superb solo 'Wildflowers'. Rainbow '87 on Columbia was described as straight pop by Country Music People UK, got one star: only one song on it was hers, and sounded country despite the pop synths. She opened her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Fork TN '86, much of the profit going to the Sevier Co. educational system. She teamed with Ricky Scaggs for album White Limozeen '88 with big hits 'Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That' and 'Yellow Roses'; duet hit 'Rockin' Years' yet another no. 1 country hit. 'I Will Always Love You', a 20- year-old song written about the breakup with Wagoner, was revived by Whitney Houston in film The Bodyguard '92 for a world-wide smash; three years later she recorded a third version of the song with Vince Gill for another country hit. Album Eagle When She Flies '92 was a hit; she teamed with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette for disappointing Honky Tonk Angels. A host of country stars added backing vocals to her album Slow Dancing With The Moon incl. 'Romeo' '93, the inventive video featuring Billy Ray Cyrus etc; Heartsongs -- Live from Home '94 was recorded at Dollywood; Something Special '95 again incl. many guests. Further film roles incl. Steel Magnolias '90, Wild Texas Wind '91 and Straight Talk '92; she owned her own film production company. Formed her own Blue Eye record label and prod. Treasures '96, an album of pop and country covers. Autobiography My Life And Other Unfinished Business '94.